Does History Ever Repeat Itself? A Look at Two Groundings of Naval Vessels Separated by Over Two Centuries

  • Derek Vincent McCann


This narrative outline of two very similar naval disasters, separated by over two centuries, shows how history can be repeated and for very similar reasons. It demonstrates the frailty of human decision making, using a brain that has scarcely evolved over the past 10,000 years and attempts to explain some of the mental aberrations behind human error. Experience is no guarantor of exactitude, and in fact, seasoned leaders are often guilty of recklessness, whilst their juniors, fearful of retribution, take a good deal more care over their decisions. In conclusion, it seems that while hubris and the tendency to use shortcuts known as “heuristics” persist, then mistaken decisions will be taken, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. There are ways of reducing this possibility, including proper training. Experience counts a lot, but this can have negative effects too.

Author Biography

Derek Vincent McCann
Captain, Merchant Marine.